Here, Lisa Murphy discusses her inspiration to write two books about her "indulged cat" Theo, and how having such a project has helped keep depression at bay. She now sells her two books as a means to fundraise for Ataxia UK.  

The year was 2012 when I entered the Race for Life. All was fine until I reached the finish line, when I found that my feet wouldn’t stop walking. A year later in September, I noticed that I couldn’t balance on uneven paving stones; another time, I suddenly fell backwards into a bath with a towel on my head, which luckily saved my skull. A few months later I attended a party and collapsed. Everyone thought I was drunk. A visit to the doctor confirmed the need of a visit to a neurologist and, lo and behold, I was diagnosed with Sensory Ataxia.

Despite the rush of fear, I decided that with the onset of Chronic Fatigue as well, I would fill my days as best I could by avoiding depression and writing about my crazy Exotic Short Hair Cat – Theo. The first book emerged, and a good friend who has a BA in Art created its beautiful illustrations. By the end of 2014 we had Theo’s Diary – The Observations of an Indulged Cat. Another year passed and I managed to write a sequel Theo’s Diary – The Further Observations of an Indulged Cat, which was again beautifully illustrated.

Theo's Diaries Reception 

I was ecstatic when I finished the two books, and friends have been reading the ridiculous antics my cat gets up to on their tablets, iPads, iPhones and computers. The general consensus seems to be that the books induce “belly laughs”. The whole exercise has kept depression at bay, and I am managing my ataxia with the help of friends who have read the books and donated to Ataxia UK.

I am able to cope with my ataxia; apart from the odd - well, slightly more frequent falls now, life is fun, and with the help of my husband we are living as happily as we were before my diagnosis. So you see, there is hope for everyone who has ataxia. Find something that pleases you to do, whatever that may be and indulge yourself, you will notice the difference.

Theo manages in his books to fall in the loo, fall out of the tree in our garden, ruins the toaster by being sick in it (as well as my computer keyboard). Throughout the books, Theo's dialogue is cheeky and makes us both laugh as we translate his actions into words. He asks when the clocks go back, where they have gone to and is most disgruntled when he doesn’t get fed for an hour. Theo’s Diaries have been my saving grace.

Thank you for reading. 

How to buy a copy

You can order a copy of Theo's Diaries 1 and 2 from Lisa Murphy directly by emailing her at [email protected]. All donations received will be sent to Ataxia UK!